I garden, therefore I am. We’re passionate and a little crazy when it comes to gardening but how are the earth changes treating you and your garden? Living in northwest NSW makes growing anything a challenge right now. We see mature gums dying… hardy plants turning up their toes and seedlings, forget it! My style is a little ad hoc but here are a few of my tips for coping with extreme radiation, a very high evaporation rate and a few other ‘natural’ things:
Mix it up!
Plant your veggies all over the place. Yep. In amongst the flowers. In the shade. In the front yard… out the back. In pots on a veranda. Under a specially erected shade cloth.
Ugly is the new beautiful. Pile your prunings around your trees and plants. Use your old weeds as mulch. Don’t waste a thing. You can always buy mulch but your garden produces mulch every day. If you have a really large garden (as I do) you can even use your branches as a base for more mulch and more planting (of course!).
A ‘filler’ is something very common and you can’t kill it with an axe! These plants are not invasive by any means but they grow easily once established and require little or no watering.
They’re usually cheap and will grow from cuttings, etc. A garden filled with these hardies will give you a wonderful micro-climate for your ‘special’, more expensive plants later.
A little often
Not too well? Too hot outside? Too cold? Never mind. Take a break. I find a short walk to the mailbox gives one an opportunity to pull a few weeds. Ten minutes pruning can make a real difference if done every now and then. Break your gardening up into little chunks of time. Don’t stress.
Critters are God’s creatures too! When I was small I was constantly taught that spiders and bugs had to be hunted, swatted, squished and above all, feared! Now, apart from mossies and the nasty red wasp that’s nested next to the path, I leave them undisturbed. If your garden is as ‘natural’ as mine then you do need to take care not to step on one of the deadliest snakes in the world or place fingers in pots where our ubiquitous red-back spider has made his/her home.
A word on the Brown
Our slithery friend would rather be left alone and will usually slink away if he senses you near. (I had a friend who spent an hour weeding a small rockery only to watch a huge Brown slither out while she was standing on the driveway… hilarious!) When my courage fails I wear my trusty, sweaty gumboots. If I haven’t a care in the world and am knee deep in plants, in my thongs, in summer, I make a habit of checking my ankles and shins immediately I’ve finished. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t necessarily feel a snake bite especially if you’re getting scratched by twigs and branches.
Trees are Treasures
Trees are the greatest gift ever bestowed on mankind. They are our last bastion against our changing climate. A tree nurtures the soil with its leaves; provides shade and shelter for our beloved birds and other fauna; stands proud and strong in the worst heat and the bitterest cold; gives us a resting place to sit and contemplate and my favourite thing of all, outlives us! Planting a tree is paradoxically selfish and unselfish. The act of planting these guardians connects us spiritually to the earth.
The Birds and the Bees
It can take one bee about a year to make a teaspoon of honey (or thereabouts – look it up for yourself). Birds and bees are hungry folk. They need nectar and insects for nutrition. Please find room for some feed plants for our tiny garden companions.
Deader than a Doornail: Lost your favorite shrub? An old native wattle keeled over? It’s hardly a catastrophe but rather, a wonderful opportunity for a visit to the local nursery. Time to take a fresh look at an old area of the garden. Lucky you!
Never give up!
Never! A good gardener requires patience and fortitude in spades. Your smallest effort is often rewarded tenfold. A garden is a life’s work and you will have trials and mishaps along the way. However, nothing in the world can compare to the joy of hearing birdsong in the morning… or bees buzzing in your trees. Enjoy!
Trees... also a resting place for dead soft toys.